... to improve your home’s air quality
When it comes to spring cleaning and home maintenance, things like window cleaning, landscaping, roof repair and painting generally come to mind. But we often overlook duct cleaning, even though it has a huge impact on the air quality in a home.
If you’re wondering what duct cleaning entails, it may be because it’s not something done on an annual basis so there’s a chance you’ve yet to encounter the process. Residential duct cleaning is the extraction of debris, dirt and dust from your home’s ventilation air ducts.
“The main concept is basically creating a negative pressure to your main supply and return plenum near the furnace, while simultaneously using positive pressure to agitate and send the dust and debris from all supply and return branches towards the vacuum,” said Darin Doucet, founder and CEO of Duct Masters Inc. “Forcing air is not sufficient; most professional companies will agitate properly with adapters that spin and turn inside both the supply and return branches and not just the main plenum. Once they clean all supply and return branches, they complete the cleaning with the main plenum.”
Once everything has been cleaned, the technician should verify the work with a visual inspection using a camera or a flashlight and mirror, he added.
Why does duct cleaning matter? Because it has a direct impact on your home’s air quality, among other reasons.
“The air passing through the ducts is the same air your family breathes each day and, left unchecked, ducts can harbour allergens like pollen and pet dander, which can re-enter your living space through the supply registers,” Doucet said.
“Though these particles aren’t necessarily a health hazard, they can pose problems for people who have asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues.”
Having your air ducts cleaned will help improve air quality and keep your air free of airborne particles. Moreover, in addition to contributing to optimal air conditions, having clean ducts also affects the energy efficiency of your home.
“Dust and debris restricts the flow of air to and from the components of your HVAC system, so when the ducts are clogged your furnace or air conditioner has to consume more energy to do its job,” Doucet said. “Keeping ducts clear will ensure your units can perform at peak efficiency.”
Clean ducts also help protect heating and cooling equipment.
“A dirty ventilation system can lead to clogged air-conditioner coils, contaminated blower wheels, and other issues that result in costly repairs,” he said.
Generally speaking, it’s ideal to have your home’s ducts cleaned every two or three years, with a recommended maximum of seven years between cleanings, experts say. But there are many reasons to clean them more often if the budget allows.
“If you just completed a renovation project or built a brand-new home construction, the air ducts should be cleaned immediately,” Doucet said. “The other reasons to have them cleaned more often include pets in the home, children with respiratory illnesses, rodent infestation, or mould found inside the home.”
One of the main warning signs that it may be time to have your home’s ducts cleaned is constant dustiness, including when dust returns to furniture and surfaces almost immediately after being cleaned off.
“Homeowners can also look themselves very easily inside the return vent, which is a rectangle grill on the wall. Doing this takes just a few minutes and will give you a good idea if it’s time to clean the air ducts.”
Another reason to have your ducts cleaned is if you’ve just purchased a home, or if you’re looking to sell your property.
“The general public is increasingly aware of duct cleaning services because there’s a greater awareness of the importance of having acceptable air quality in their homes,” said Daniela Lamorte, residential real estate broker with M Immobilier. “I work with buyers who have the ducts cleaned in their new properties, and tenants, in some cases, who request duct cleaning prior to occupancy.”
As a seller, it would be a sensible idea to have the ducts cleaned prior to selling, she added.
“Particularly in cases where mould was found in the home, if there is carpeting or pets in the home, or if the home was renovated,” Lamorte said. “It can help the selling process by eliminating stubborn odours that may be caused by the buildup of debris and allergens in the ductwork.”
If a seller does go the route of having his/her ducts cleaned, it is always wise to retain the receipt in order to demonstrate to prospective buyers that it was done professionally.
“Duct cleaning is a relatively inexpensive way for sellers to demonstrate that a certain level of care has been given to the HVAC system,” Lamorte said. “It gives buyers a greater sense of comfort knowing that the home has been properly maintained, and that adds to the desirability of the property.”
In order to find the right professional to clean your home’s ducts, it’s important to do some research.
“The industry is plagued with false — or, worse, scamming — businesses that take advantage of people,” Doucet said. “Consumers need to be smart and to not shop based on lowest price. Duct cleaning takes time to do — anywhere between 2½ to five hours sometimes. Companies that offer suspicious pricing will spend a fraction of that time and won’t take the necessary measures to properly clean the air vents.”
Homeowners can help protect themselves by looking for a company that is NADCA certified, reputable and one with positive feedback.
“Your best chance of hiring a professional would be from sources like nadca.com or ductcleaning. org,” because a company listed on NADCA must meet strict requirements in order to be a member, Doucet said. “Using ductcleaning. org is a great platform to educate consumers on what to know and even if it’s needed.”
Duct cleaning is extremely important for the health of your home’s ventilation system, but it’s not an easy job and, therefore, doing it right takes specialized equipment in the hands of a skilled technician. That’s why it’s essential to ensure you’re working with professionals.
A technician verifies the duct work using a camera or flashlight and mirror.
Having your home’s air ducts cleaned professionally is the best option, since technicians like this have the proper equipment — adapters and brushes like the so-called whipper that spins and turns inside the duct “to wake up the sleeping dirt” which is sent directly to the vacuum.
Homeowners themselves can check if their ducts need to be cleaned. Simply unscrew the rectangular grill covering the return vent to have a look inside.
A Duct Masters technician removes the blower and motor from a furnace since, to maximize the air quality in a home, the company offers the cleaning of this equipment in addition to cleaning the ducts.